Hamels was hit by a pitch in some unadmitted retaliation in the same game. Baseball then suspended him for five games for spontaneous honesty. And then we waited for Wednesday night, and the rematch.
We waited for nothing, other than Hamels' typical excellence.
With everyone watching extra closely, he threw his best game of what has been a very good season for him. With his team backsliding, with his manager admittedly "running my mouth" in the dugout to lighten the mood, with the Nationals threatening to sweep the series and cast further doubt on exactly where things stood between the teams, Hamels raised his record to 7-1.
"Ultimately, I had nine guys to face so it wasn't even in the back of my mind," Hamels said.
Really? With everybody watching?
"It wasn't in my mind," he said.
Hamels pitched a no-hitter against the Nationals for 5 1/3 innings. Struggling a little bit early with his command and piling up the pitches, he still made it through eight innings and 114 pitches, allowing no runs and only four hits and striking out eight. Two great defensive plays behind him saved two runs: rightfielder Hunter Pence cut down a runner at the plate in the sixth inning, and shortstop Freddy Galvis made a great over-the-shoulder catch to prevent another run in the eighth.
In the absence of fireworks, we pretty much learned what we already knew: that with the notable exception of his unfocused slump in 2009 - 3 years ago now - whenever Hamels gets himself into an issue with his mouth, it tends to have nothing to do with how he ends up performing on the mound.
"He had a tough year [in 2009] because he got knocked around a little bit, he had some injuries and things," Phils manager Charlie Manuel said. "He had a tough year. He lost his composure at times. I was surprised at that, really, because he usually stays pretty focused on what he's doing and he's got a lot of determination.
"He's a lot different from what you see. If you get to know him, he is a mentally tough guy. If he goes out there, he goes out there to beat you. He has a lot of conviction and confidence in his pitches. He's good. I think he handles things pretty good."
As we all know, Hamels' contract expires at the end of the season. Some guys play better to get that next contract - adrenaline is funny that way - but the truth is, Hamels has pitched as well as this at other times in his Phillies career, but sometimes without the run support or the results he is seeing this season.
This is not a salary drive. This is just him. And, when given the chance after the game, he did what he could to deflect attention away from his uncertain future in Philadelphia.
"I'm just playing the game the best I know how," Hamels said. "It's just go out there and try to take it one pitch at a time, one inning at a time. I'm not really thinking about that sort of big picture. It's not fair to my teammates or the organization or, obviously, the fans when you think about the other causes of the baseball world.
"I'm here right now and I'm ultimately trying to win for my teammates and the fans here and the organization. That's all that I'm going to stick with."
He should. It is working. Around him, his teammates are pressing and scuffling several nights a week. Manuel is left to answer awkward questions about his last-place team. This night, though, he could be upbeat, even defiant.
At one point, asked to compare his team to the Nationals, Manuel said, "I think it's close. I think we've got 'em, though." Later, talking about this night, Manuel said, "We needed to win a game. We're going to win some more. We're not going anywhere."
Not as long as Hamels is around. Then again, even through the sideshow, we could already see that.
Contact Rich Hofmann at email@example.com,
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